Lifting Vietnam-Italy strategic partnership to new heights

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s official visit to Vietnam at the invitation of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc will mark a new milestone in the bilateral relationship, helping to further deepen the Vietnam-Italy strategic partnership in the new situation.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in June 2018 (Photo: VGP)
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in June 2018 (Photo: VGP)

The Vietnamese people are pleased to share the achievements in all aspects recorded by Italy recently. Italy is currently the 9th largest economy in the world with a system of well-performing small and medium enterprises, which contribute nearly two thirds of its GDP.

Italy is pushing for trade with Asian economies and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Vietnam. Italian outbound investment remains modest in comparison with other EU countries but has increased strongly since 2000. Total Italian investment in other countries reached US$608 billion as of early 2018. In recent years, Italy has implemented a dynamic foreign policy in the face of many great challenges such as the migrant crisis and financial instability.

Vietnam and Italy formally established diplomatic relations on March 23, 1973. We are pleased to see that the strategic partnership between the two countries is developing positively in all fields and is becoming more substantive. Italy was the first Western European country to support enhancing the cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, and the normalisation of relations between Vietnam and financial, trade and monetary organisations in the early 1990s.

Vietnam and Italy frequently exchange high-level delegations, helping to strongly drive the strategic partnership between the two countries, notably the visits to Italy by General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in January 2013 and President Tran Dai Quang in November 2016.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Italian President Sergio Mattarella visited Vietnam in June 2014 and November 2015 respectively. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte held a meeting on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in June 2018.

The two sides have worked closely at international forums and multi-lateral organisations. The two countries have also formulated many cooperation mechanisms such as deputy foreign ministerial-level strategic dialogue, deputy ministerial-level defence dialogue and a joint committee on economic cooperation.

During the meetings with Vietnamese leaders, high-ranking Italian leaders affirmed their determination to promote the multi-faceted cooperation with Vietnam, considering Vietnam as a priority in developing relations in Southeast Asia.

Economic and trade relations between the two countries are developing in a dynamic manner. Italy is one of the first Western European countries to resume and develop cooperation relations with Vietnam after a period of discontinuity (1979-1989).

Two-way trade has been growing steadily in recent years, reaching US$4.67 billion in 2018. Italy is currently Vietnam’s fourth largest trading partner in the EU and Vietnam is Italy’s largest trading partner in ASEAN. As of 2018, Italy ranked 32nd among the 128 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, with 86 projects worth at total US$388 million. The Italian government has named Vietnam as one of the ten emerging markets with priority to develop trade and investment relations.

With regards to development assistance, Italy began providing ODA to Vietnam in the 1980s. Currently the Italian government is supporting Vietnam with 11 projects under way and another six in preparation, with total pledges of EUR100 million.

Cooperation in security-defence, culture, education, science-technology, and tourism is also active. Vietnam is emerging as one of the most attractive destinations to Italian tourists with nearly 60,000 Italians visiting Vietnam in 2017. Italy is also one of the top destinations for Vietnamese tourists to Europe. The Vietnamese community in Italy has nearly 5,000 members.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s visit aims to affirm the determination of both countries’ leaders and people to strengthen the Vietnam-Italy strategic partnership and to strongly bolster cooperation in all fields, especially economic, trade and investment cooperation.

May Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s visit to Vietnam be a success, taking the Vietnam-Italy strategic partnership to new heights.